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Eating high glycemic diet may increase your chances of heart attacks, death risk

A study has found that eating poor quality carbohydrates can up your risk of heart diseases. Know what you can do to mitigate the risk.

Written by Arushi Bidhuri |Updated : February 25, 2021 6:24 PM IST

There is no doubt that eating a healthy diet is essential to keep your heart health in check. A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine has found that consuming a poor quality of carbohydrates leads to a higher risk of heart attacks, strokes and death. Also known as a high glycemic diet, eating poor quality carbohydrates had the same effect whether people had previous cardiovascular disease or not.

For the study, researchers followed 1,35,851 people aged 35 to 70 years for 9.5 years through the Population Urban and Rural Epidemiology (PURE) study run by the Population Health Research Institute (PHRI) of McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences. They found that consuming a diet in the highest 20 per cent of the glycemic index was 50 per cent more likely to have heart disease, stroke or death if they had a pre-existing heart condition, or 20 per cent more likely to have an event if they did not have a pre-existing condition. People who were obese were also at a greater risk.

Not All Carbohydrates Are Bad For Your Heart

But the study also indicated that not all carbohydrate foods are bad for health. It was found that diets rich in poor quality carbohydrates are decreased longevity, but good quality carbohydrates such as fruits, vegetables, and legumes are good for your health. As per the results of the study, "consumption of poor quality of carbohydrates are likely to be more adverse than the consumption of most fats in the diet."

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In other words, carbohydrates are not bad for your heart if you choose a variety of whole foods that contain minimally processed carbohydrates. Moreover, it is essential to keep in mind that you should eat it in moderation.

Foods That Are Good For Your Heart

According to the World Health Organization, heart diseases accounts for one-third of all deaths worldwide. It is essential to keep your heart healthy to keep your heart health in check. Some foods that can help keep your heart healthy include:

Leafy Green Vegetables

Kale, spinach and collard greens contain vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, which can help reduce blood pressure and improve atrial function. Studies have linked the higher intake of leafy greens with a decreased risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Whole Grains

Studies have shown that eating whole grains such as rye, whole wheat, brown rice, barley, quinoa reduces bad cholesterol levels, thereby reducing the risk of developing heart diseases.

Fatty Fish

Fatty fish are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, which is a nutrient that reduces blood triglycerides, improves arterial function, and reduce blood pressure all of which helps reduce the risk of heart diseases.


Some nuts such as almonds, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts and pecans are super nutritious and good for your heart. Walnuts are also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which is good for your heart.


Berries are rich in antioxidants, which helps reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries are some of the berries that are good for your heart.

Dark Chocolate

Rich in antioxidants like flavonoids, dark chocolate are often linked with a lower risk of heart diseases. However, you should eat it in moderation to avoid any health complications.


Tomatoes contain antioxidants that help neutralize free radicals that cause damage and inflammation in the body. Along with a lower risk of heart disease and stroke, it has also been associated with good HDL cholesterol.


Seeds such as chia seeds, flaxseeds and hemp seeds contain fibre and omega-3 fatty acids, which is good for your heart. It does so by reducing several risk factors including inflammation, blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglycerides.


Garlic is one of the healthiest remedies that help treat a variety of health problems. Due to its medicinal and therapeutic properties that reduce blood pressure and brings down cholesterol levels, which helps promote heart health.

Green Tea

Green tea is high in polyphenols and catechins, both of which have been linked to lower cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure all of which is good for your heart. It has also been linked to improved brain function, fat loss, and protecting against cancer.

Olive Oil

High in antioxidants and monounsaturated fats, olive oil has been linked with lower blood pressure and heart disease risk. One healthy diet that involves the use of olive oil is the Mediterranean diet, which is also considered healthy for your heart.

Lifestyle Changes To Safeguard Your Heart

There are many risk factors of heart diseases but making some healthy choices can help you protect your heart. Here are some changes you can do:

  • Being a couch potato is a risk factor for heart diseases, so you should exercise regularly to avoid the risk
  • Smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol not only puts you at risk of heart diseases but also increase your risk of developing cancer, lung disease and stroke
  • Several studies have linked heart diseases to stress, so try and manage stress by exercising regularly, eating the right foods, etc.
  • Another very important factor in keeping your weight in control as being overweight or obese puts you at a higher risk of developing a heart disease
  • Avoid foods that contain saturated fats such as marbled cuts of beef, processed meat, and desserts
  • Uncontrolled high blood pressure can damage your arteries and organs including your heart. It also contributes to increased risk of cardiovascular diseases
  • Too much bad cholesterol and not enough good cholesterol can result in plaque building upon the walls of the arteries, which can lead to heart diseases. Try to keep your cholesterol levels in check
  • Diabetes is one of the diseases that causes a chain reaction. A person with heart disease is at risk of medical issues like high blood pressure and high cholesterol, both of which increases the risk of heart diseases

(with inputs from agencies)

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